Daniel Ellsberg was recently restored to popular consciousness by the movie The Post. The movie tells the story the Washington Post newspaper’s risky decision to publish excerpts from The Pentagon Papers, an exhaustive, top secret report on the United States involvement in Vietnam which completely contradicted the public narrative and justification for the war. Ellsberg was the whistle-blower, the man who at the risk of spending the rest of his life in prison, took copies of the documents from the Rand Corporation and leaked them to the Post.

Daniel Ellsberg, 1970s

I interviewed Ellsberg in his home in April 2014 on a different topic: My father’s work at Rand and his work’s contribution to nuclear détente.   Weidlinger and Ellsberg crossed paths in the late 1950s and early 60s when they both worked at Rand, the prestigious and highly secretive think-tank created by the U.S. Air Force to develop nuclear and conventional war fighting strategies. In the interview Ellsberg refers to Albert Wohlstetter, the director of Rand’s General War Studies program. Wohlstetter recruited my father to work for Rand and was also his close friend.

Beyond Ellsberg’s answers to my questions about my father (which will be in the book and the film) he discussed a critical four-year period (1957 – 1961) in the Cold War. This is the period of the perceived “Missile Gap” during which it was believed the Soviet Union was far ahead of the U.S. in its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). What is the relevance of this history today? Watch the video and find out.

My next post will be about my search to film one of the super-hardened MX missile silos that my father worked on during the Cold War.

Daniel Ellsberg’s latest book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner was published just a few months ago, at the end of 2017.